Yesterday I mentioned the Right’s new pretty shiny thing, which is a claim that Christians are persecuted when they are not granted exclusive, special rights to discriminate against gays and ignore health insurance regulations. As ridiculous as that is, given the current makeup of the Supreme Court, it wouldn’t surprise me if the justices conceded those rights. But there’s a situation in Louisiana that may push the issue over a line even Antonin Scalia himself may have to hold his nose to cross.
This is something I wrote about a few days ago on the other blog. A 6th grade teacher in a Louisiana public school has been using her classroom to indoctrinate children into creationism, 6,000-year-old earth and all. In a brilliant example of Peak Stupid, she actually said that if evolution were true, apes would still be turning into humans today.
One of the students, identified as C.C., is a Buddhist boy adopted from Thailand. Well, here’s what happened, according to Raw Story:
One test she gave to students asked: “ISN’T IT AMAZING WHAT THE _____________ HAS MADE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!” The correct answer was “Lord,” but C.C. wrote in something else. Roark responded by scolding the boy in front of the entire class.
When informed that C.C. was a Buddhist and therefore didn’t believe in God, Roark allegedly responded, “you’re stupid if you don’t believe in God.”
On another accusation, she allegedly described both Buddhism and Hinduism as “stupid.”
Certainly, this teacher would know stupid. And then when the parents complained to the superintendent, the superintendent told them that maybe they should transfer the boy to another school, particularly one with more Asians.
For some perplexing reason (/snark), the ACLU has sued.
Now, here’s the update: Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal is more or less saying that if the court’s stifle the teacher, this would be a violation of the teacher’s rights of free expression. His office issued this statement:
“Religious freedom is foundational to liberty in America. In this case, the plaintiffs are alleging violations of the establishment clause not the free exercise clause. We don’t want to comment on this particular case before hearing the defendant’s side of the story, but as a general rule, government needs to be very careful before making decisions that restrict any American’s religious freedoms.”
I’m sure I’ve said before that conservatives like to pretend the establishment clause isn’t there, or is somehow lesser to the free exercise clause, although in fact without the establishment clause the free exercise clause isn’t worth much. Certainly, the child being coerced into expressing belief in God by a government employee is not having his free exercise rights respected, is he?
A few days earlier, Jindal gave a speech claiming there is a “silent war” on religious liberty.
“This war is waged in our courts and in the halls of political power. It is pursued with grim and relentless determination by a group of like-minded elites, determined to transform the country from a land sustained by faith — into a land where faith is silenced, privatized, and circumscribed.
I like the part about religion being “privatized.” That’s bad? Republicans want Medicare and Social Security, government programs, to be privatized, but religion — which is supposed to be every citizen’s own damn business, not the government’s — is to become a function of government? Is that what he’s saying?
Their vision of America is not the vision of the Founding. It’s not even the vision of ten years ago. It’s a vision in which an individual’s devotion to Almighty God is accorded as much respect as a casual hobby — and with about as many rights and protections.
Like this founding father, Jindal? And how about protecting C.C. from having to swear belief in God to get along with his teacher? Are you saying the government’s public “rights” override the rights of a citizen?
These elites have to this point faced little opposition – a non-profit here, a dedicated attorney there, a small business over there. A handful of principled organizations with the courage to stand up to the crushing weight of a liberal consensus unalterably opposed to their participation in the public square. They are the remnant who have the temerity to believe in America and its promises — and to do something about it.
What participation in the public square? You can participate all you like; just don’t try to use government to push your religious beliefs on others.
Seriously, I think this needs to be hung around the neck of the whole GOP. Whose rights do you support? C.C.’s or the teacher’s?